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Calling a deer a horse

When the Emperor of Qin died of illness in Shaqiu, there were three persons with him: the Prime Minister Li Si, the Eunuch Zhao Gao, and Prince Huhai.

Li Si was the left hand man of the Emperor Qin, who had helped the emperor defeat his enemies and rule China. Huhai was the second son of the late emperor. Zhao Gao was a lowly eunuch who was hungry for power.

Zhao Gao suggested killing the Heir Apparent Fusu by faking a letter from the late emperor and letting the second son Huhai become the next emperor. Li Si, who was concerned whether Fusu would support him, accepted. Huhai, who was unwise, accepted as well.

After declaring Huhai as the Emper Qin Er Shi, he decided to control the entire government. The man brought a deer to a meeting. He showed that deer in front of the emperor and the officials, and said it was a great horse. The emperor, who regarded Zhao Gao as a teacher and therefore trusted him completely, thought it was a deer, and many officials thought so too. Some were afraid of Zhao Gao, but seeing that new Emperor also regarded it as a horse, said nothing. Others agreed to its being a horse. Zhao Gao murdered the officials who remained silent or called it a deer.

Zhao Gao later killed Li Si with the method of execution that Li Si invented himself. Then Zhao Gao killed Qin Er Shi and declared Ziying emperor when Liu Bang arrived at the capital. When Xiang Yu arrived, Ziying killed Zhao Gao and surrendered, thus ending the reign of the Yings as well as Zhao's rule.


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